Chapter 9

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

The newly renovated Taj Hotel looked resplendent. The astounding make-over in record time was a visual jibe to the perpetrators of 26/11. It had become a symbol of India’s resilience, endurance and patriotism.

The black Audi arrived at the grand entrance and a durwan [1], dressed in pristine white kurta, pants and red turban rushed to open the car door. He was startled when a mean looking, overbearing middle aged man wearing a safari suit hurriedly stepped out of the car and pushed him away.

Salim slipped out of the back seat and squinted as the bright sun hit his eyes. Jet lagged and tired, he did not offer much protest to his kidnappers. He trusted Ahmed with his life, confident that Ahmed would never leave anything to chance. The two brothers had resolved to put an end to the Swaminathan saga once and for all.

As they passed the reception area, Salim saw a familiar face. Salim realized that Ahmed must have alerted Rahul who had reached the Taj well before time. 

Rahul entered the elevator along with Salim and his kidnappers. Very discreetly Rahul slipped a micro voice recorder into Salim’s pocket. The elevator opened on the 7th floor and the five men exited.         

After the 26/11 attacks, every five-star hotel and important landmarks in the city were under surveillance by the counter-terrorist cell of Mumbai Police 24/7. A counter-terrorist commando in plain clothes was always present at these venues to patrol and provide intelligence.   

On his way to the Taj, Hemant had alerted his contact about Swaminathan’s arrival at the hotel. As soon as he reached the hotel, Rahul had got in touch with Hemant’s contact. The contact informed Rahul that Swaminathan had booked a room under Salim’s name and had arrived at the hotel the night before. The contact had already booked an adjoining room for Rahul that had a secret door between the two rooms.

A mandatory security modification at the Taj now meant that every room in the hotel had this secret door built in to provide access to security forces if a terror attack were ever to be attempted again. Rahul had been instructed to wait in this room until Hemant and company arrived.  


Seated on a plush leather couch, Swaminathan glanced menacingly at Salim as the men entered the room. 

Without preamble, Swaminathan handed a gun to Salim.

“Kill yourself. Your suicide note is ready. Shweta and Paurush will be safe. If not, I will finish you and Shweta.”

“Why do you want to kill me after all these years? Shweta and I are very happy together. Just let it go.”

“You destroyed our family honour and sullied the name of our ancestors. After you eloped with Shweta, I have never been able to walk with my head held high. You both have tarnished my reputation. I cannot forgive you.”

Swaminathan pulled the gun from Salim’s hand.

He was about to pull the trigger when the secret door suddenly opened leaving him horror struck.

[1] Durwan - A doorkeeper, especially in an apartment building or hotel.



what a fantastic chapter Hemali. As I read I became impatient to find out how it would end and what a great way to end the chapter. The chapter was controlled and concise, with no padding. It flowed and led my eye to the end.